Research: smartphone growth will halve this year

Jun 17, 2016, 2:24 PM EDT
Source: West Midlands Police/flickr
Source: West Midlands Police/flickr

It’s not complete news that the global smartphone market is set for a decline; research firms have been forecasting the effect smartphone saturation will have on the future mobile market for a few years. But as markets such as the U.S.’s show signs of saturation, more concrete figures are available. Gartner revealed research recently that points to a pending, big drop in smartphone sales. The firm projects that the market will shrink from 14.4% growth in 2015 to just 7% in 2016.

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said in a statement: ”The smartphone market will no longer grow at the levels it has reached over the last seven years. Smartphone sales recorded their highest growth in 2010, reaching 73 percent."

Now, with only 1.5 billion smartphone units projected to ship globally this year, the mobile market is looking toward new frontiers such as the internet of things. The smartphone market has reached 90% penetration in the "mature markets of North America, Western Europe, Japan and Mature Asia/Pacific,” according to Gartner. And, not only does the saturation slow future growth, but users in those regions are not replacing or upgrading their deices as often as they used to. That extension of the phone life cycle further impacts the slowing of smartphone shipments.

China’s smartphone market maturation occurred swiftly over the last few years, leaving foreign companies grasping at straws to gain footholds and stay in the Chinese smartphone market. But sales of smartphones in China went flat in 2015. India is now on the horizon for many a vendor. 

Feature phones — devices that are equipped with cellular and internet connections but without many of the features of a smartphone — still make up the majority of phone sales in India. That means that there is huge growth potential for smartphones in the country.

Connected devices including wearables are the new booming mobile market to watch. Check out Blouin News’ coverage of India’s growing wearables market here.